The Six Major Dairy Goat Breeds
There are 6 major breeds of dairy goats in the United States. Our herd includes Alpine, LaManca, Nubian, and Saanen. Although not currently part of our dairy goat herd, the Toggenburgs and Oberhaslis round out the major breeds. Please enjoy our Farm Video!
Alpine dairy goats were first imported to the United States in 1922 from the Massif Central of eastern France. They came directly to Northern California and since then have become the mainstay of dairies. Their rugged vitality and adaptability enables them to thrive and produce for many years. They have upright ears and sport a variety of hair color, often in patterns.
The French names for some of these patterns
are cou blanc (white neck), cou clair (tan neck), chamoisee (deep bay red with black points), sundgau (black with white points), and pied (black with splashes and bands of white). Annual registrations of Alpines indicate they are one of the more
popular breeds in the United States. Pictured here is our sundgau Alpine doe SGCH Redwood Hills Ember Amicale 8*M.
LaManchas are often referred to as the breed made in America. In fact they are descended from Spanish varieties of dairy goats that accompanied the friars as early mission settlements were established up the El Camino Real. Officially recognized as a distinct breed in the late 1950s, their short ears make them unique in the dairy goat world. They can hear just fine, but lack external cartilage tubes.
Their hair color is widely varied, from blacks, browns, reds, creams to whites. They are the most personable of dairy goats and extraordinarily inquisitive. Their milk is slightly higher in solids than Alpines and Saanens and has a wonderful flavor. LaManchas are currently among the most popular breeds. LaMancha Doe pictured here is SG Vineyard View Dare Nicky Mouse 6*M, bred and owned by Scott Bice, Vineyard View Dairy Goats.
Nubians have the most distinctive facial profile of all dairy goat breeds. Their convex Roman noses are complimented by long bell shaped drooping ears. Nubians were developed as a dairy breed in England during the late 1800s by crossing native milking does to bucks from Africa and India who possessed the unique head characteristics. Their milk has the highest butterfat and solids content of any breed, thought the volume is slightly lower.
Traditionally, Nubians have been the singular most popular breed of dairy goat in the United States. They come in a wide variety of colors, even black with white spots. The first Nubians were imported into this country in 1909. Pictured here is our Nubian doe SGCH Redwood Hills Tarot Dahlia 7*M.
Saanens were among the first dairy goat breeds imported to the United States in 1904. They originated in the Saanen Valley of southeast Switzerland. They are often referred to as the “Holstein” of the dairy goat world and the most widely distributed breed on the planet. They are a color set breed, meaning simply they must be white or light cream only. They have upright ears.
Their extreme size, placid temperament and consistent high production make them ideal for dairy purposes. While US registrations are often not as numerous as some other breeds, there is hardly a working goat dairy anywhere that does not have its quota of Saanens. Pictured here is our Saanen doe SGCH Companeros Stand Out Madera 3*M.
Like the Saanen breed, Toggenburgs originated in Switzerland and also have erect ears. Toggenburgs can be any shade of chocolate brown, and must have white stockings and facial stripes. Their hair tends to grow longer than other breeds, but when clipped for shows their coat looks like brown velvet. Pictured here is GCH Rowe’s Snowbuck Redwing 8*M, bred by Joan Dean Rowe of Rowe’s Toggenburgs.
The Oberhasli breed, while smaller in numbers, is rapidly growing in popularity. They are a beautiful bay-red color with black dorsal stripe and black stockings. Some does are born solid black. Pictured here is Oberhasli doe SGCH California Kalvin Special K 4*M, bred and owned by the University Of California Davis.